New LGBTQ-owned bookstore to open in Wellington West

Owners Stephen Crocker and Cole Davidson stand in front of The Spaniel’s Tale, an LGBTQ-led bookstore opening in Hintonburg. Photo by Maureen McEwan.

By Alvin Tsang

The Spaniel’s Tale is a brand-new bookstore opening soon at 1131 Wellington St. W. in Hintonburg.

Owners Cole Davidson and Stephen Crocker, who are partners in business and in life, dreamed of opening a bookstore together for many years.

“It was always a dream of ours, but it was a down-the-road sort of dream, something to do in retirement,” Davidson said. “Near the beginning of the pandemic, my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, and, almost overnight, I watched her retirement dreams vanish. So we thought, ‘Why are we waiting?’ because tomorrow is never guaranteed, and if this is something we are passionate about and something we want to do, let’s just do it.”

Stephen Crocker (left) and Cole Davidson (right) putting up their “bookstore coming soon” sign. Photo courtesy of The Spaniel’s Tale.

Davidson had worked in progressive politics for the past 10 years and hoped to show his values through the selection of books that The Spaniel’s Tale will carry. He hoped to help people discover ideas that way.

“Our plan is to be a little more general and reflect the community. We’re starting off as a general trade bookstore with a bit of everything, and we’ll see where the community wants us to go,” he said. ”We really want the store to be a place of discovery for everyone. We will have plenty of LGBTQ+ fiction and authors and history of our community, but a lot of other stuff as well.” 

Crocker works in property management and will be in the bookstore on evenings and weekends.

“If you look at the more mainstream and iconic neighbourhoods when you think of Ottawa, they all have independent bookstores and bring something unique to their communities. That’s something that was really missing from the Kitchissippi area,” Crocker said.

Davidson and Crocker started planning for The Spaniel’s Tale back in January 2021 — 19 months ago — beginning with financials, business plans and a name for the store.

“We have an English Springer Spaniel named ‘Skype.’ He’s our inspiration for the name,” Davidson said. We often make up stories about what Skype does during the day when we’re not home. He’s quite a busy dog and has worked a number of different careers in these stories. He likes to think that he has led a very interesting life and always has a tale to tell. In reality, he snoozes most of the day.”

Skype, the spaniel behind the local bookstore. Photo courtesy of The Spaniel’s Tale.

It wasn’t until January 2022 that Davidson and Crocker began the search for a store location, and they believe they’ve found the perfect one in Hintonburg.

“Opening a queer-owned bookstore is important to us. Independent bookstores in general reflect the communities that they serve, and Hintonburg is a welcoming, inclusive neighbourhood. To be successful here, we have to be that: welcoming and inclusive. It’s who we are as people, and who we want to be in business as well,” Davidson said.

The Spaniel’s Tale will carry 2,500 books when it opens, and through the store customers will be able to order any book that’s available in print—which is approximately 11.9 million titles.

A grand opening night will be announced, but the store is expected to open by early September. To stay up-to-date, visit The Spaniel’s Tale’s official website at

Leave a comment